The Haunted Hickling Broad, Norfolk
Drummer Boy Haunting at Hickling
Hickling Broad near Potter Heigham in Norfolk is managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and has the largest water surface area in the Norfolk Broads. It is not very deep and the deepest navigation channel has a depth of about 1.5 metres. During the First World War it was used as a reserve station for sea planes if the nearby sea was considered too rough. Nowadays, the picturesque Hickling Broad is hugely popular with holidaymakers and visitors enjoying sailing and boating holidays, and the abundant wildlife.
Like many areas in Norfolk, Hickling Broad is associated with a ghostly tale and reported hauntings. Local folklore tells a story that in the nineteenth century a poor local Drummer Boy from Potter Heigham came home on leave from the army just before the Battle of Waterloo and fell deeply in love with a girl from the local village. The girl's father, who was a wealthy and influential man, refused to consent to their relationship and marriage as he did not want a soldier as a son-in-law. The couple continued to see each other in secret by meeting every night at a little hut at Swim Coots on the edge of Hickling Broad. During the winter, when the broad was frozen over, the Duummer Boy would skate over the ice and signal his imminent arrival to his love by beating a tattoo on his kettle drum.
One cold February night in 1815 the girl waited in the hut as usual listening to the approaching drumming beat then everything suddenly went eerily quiet. The Drummer Boy was skating across the broad when the ice cracked and he fell into the icy cold water of Hickling Broad and drowned. Since then it is said that on some dark and cold winter nights the ghostly sound of a drum tattoo can be heard coming across the broad as the shivering apparition of the phantom drummer boy continues his eternal search for the girl he loved and lost all those years ago.